Behind the Mask of Googly Eyes and Felt: Finding Balance Between Blogging and Real Life

It was while watching a grown woman brush the hair of a ventriloquist dummy that I realized I may have an obsession with blogging. The show was My Strange Addiction and the episode was about a sassy and pretty (in a “I write messages to myself on the mirror in lipstick” sort-of-way) young lady who has no life outside of caring for her “babies”- a.k.a. nine ventriloquist dummies that she carries around in a suitcase. Her friends and family are concerned that she is spending way too much time with her inanimate buddies and slowly becoming disconnected from the human race. Like most people in denial, she tells them that they just don’t understand and that she is happy with her life. The young woman states, “My babies let me say things I can’t get away with in real life,” so Ms. Fruitcake roams the streets with a puppet stuffed on her fist looking for people to berate. She can hide from the world behind her mask made of felt and googly eyes.

I too may hide behind a mask of felt and googly eyes. If felt looked like a blog template and googly eyes looked like words. Though I don’t use my blog to publicly chastise people, I have discovered that long periods of time blogging and updating my social profiles has managed to make me feel both equally attached and detached from humankind. Attached in that I’m “meeting” wonderful people from all over the world. Progressive thinkers, entrepreneurs, creative minds, and kindred spirits. Some of these people I’ve met offline, some of them have offered me opportunities, some of them I will fantasize about in the shower tomorrow. However, I fear that the constant attention I give towards my blog and social media profiles has caused me to be a grade-A space cadet. Last week I managed to double book myself for the first time in my life. This is especially alarming for I have nothing going on in my life to cause such negligence. It’s like when old people schedule their doctors appointments all on the same day at the same time. I now have the attention span of a ADHD-infested sugar glider and I can’t focus on ANYTHING for more than a few minutes.That includes talking to people. In social settings I often have to give the warning that I may be looking at you and smiling, but there ain’t nothin’ going on upstairs except for daydreams about retweets and backlinks. I’m off in Lalalauren-Land and it’s 73 degrees and comfy.

My biggest concern is that blogging and social media will propel my downward spiral into a shut-in flake. That person that never shows up on time, forgets to answer emails, and makes promises she can’t follow through on. My second biggest concern is that “Sorry, I can’t go out tonight, I’m washing my hair” has turned into, “Sorry, I can’t go out tonight, I’m writing a blog post.” I have been on a date or two this year where I felt my time was better spent writing a blog post about how terrible the date was. My third biggest concern is that my ass will get big. Well, not big, but pastry bag-esque. You know, those loose bags packed to the brim with cannoli filling? That is what my ass is going to look like. Two bags of lard hanging off my backside that I want to chuck against the wall .

I keep telling myself that this isolating behavior is ok for right now, considering I have big plans for my writing and blog this year and it’s requiring a lot of my attention. However, what if right now turns into ten years later and I’m that lady sitting on her bed, surrounded by ventriloquist dummies that she may or may not be intimate with on a regular basis? I’m only now embracing the idea that my blog is a micro-business, something that requires time and energy, but should it come at the cost of hanging out with friends? Remembering that you scheduled time to hang with friends and forgetting? Going out on dates? Bathing? Basic grooming habits? Moving more than five feet in the span of four hours? Being sober?

How do you find balance between wanting to be a successful writer/blogger and real life?

Interesting read: What Your Ventriloquist Dummy Says About You

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  • Reply WILDasaMINK January 12, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    thanks for voicing your struggles with blogging…while it definitely is a great thing, in real life social activities it can turn us into severe slackers…I am so used to communicating with people on twitter, fb, email, etc now that I royally suck at face-to-face talking when I used to be soooooooo good at it. And don't even get me started on the "rather be home blogging about this lame date than actually being on this lame date" thing–I've sooooo been there. Ok goodluck balancing your life btwn blogging,social media, and real life excursions.

  • Reply j.m. neeb January 12, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    Do you actually make money from your blog?

    I guess I'm able to strike a decent balance because I don't feel my blog has any chance at being a profitable endeavor. I just write goofy posts and hope they provide some entertainment to whoever happens to read them.

    I have AdSense, but I don't think anyone really clicks on the ads. And I have a donation option, but no one ever has (nor do I actually expect anyone to…).

    Anyhow, I just don't envision a situation where Ducks Out Of A Row — that's my blog (and philosophy for life) — will generate any viable income. But it is a fun hobby for me and it keeps me off the streets.

  • Reply Nequam Compleo January 12, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Personally, I find that if you simply think there might be an issue, but you're not denying it, then you don't have much to worry about. The girl with the dolls – those around her see that she might have an issue, but the girl herself, doesn't. THAT is where the problem lies. I've only recently come across you, but I don't think you have much to worry about. Seems like you have your goals and sometimes you get a little preoccupied with them. We all do that.

    When your close friends start telling you that you need to take a step back because you're freaking them out, THEN you need worry.

  • Reply IT (aka Ivan Toblog) January 12, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    "What Your Ventriloquist Dummy Says About You?"

    I know I am in my own little world but it is okay because they know me here.

  • Reply theTsaritsa January 12, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    It's really important to stay balanced. If I feel like I've been behind the computer for too long, I put on my shoes and coat and take a walk outside so I can be around people. It's also a good little break and clears my head.

    Do you have a smartphone that you use for tweeting and other things? If so, maybe make a habit of turning it off when you go out, or turning it off for a few hours a day. Hope it helps!

  • Reply Scott Tammaro January 12, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    In the old days of being a photographer I'd be fighting off people who'd be lambasting me with,

    "Whaddya mean you're gonna work in the darkroom today? It's a beautiful/sunny/holiday/weekend/whatever day!"

    Years later it's "Whaddya mean you're working in Photoshop? It's a beautiful/sunny/holiday/weekend/whatever day!"

    Being aware for the need for balance is good I guess, though I'm wondering if I'll ever "find" it.

    When I do guess I'm on my way to losing it.

    Being aware of the lives living behind those well-meaning words is really the key though.

    Lotta folks don't like to see people being happy doin' their thang.

    It makes me happy. It ain't rocket science I tell 'em.


  • Reply KeLLy aNN January 12, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    I do most all of my blogging, email, internet stuff in the morning. I get the womb weebles and the chook man off to school and work, forge through cyber space, shower, hit the studio. While taking breaks from the studio I will recheck email and stuff quickly. You are a writer so blogging WILL take up more quantities of your time. I can't paint on my monitor, so I have to get up and go to the canvas. I actually work my day like a job: two hours of work, break time, work some more, lunch, etc.
    That way I get to do everything I want, feel satisfied and still get to be social.
    From my end, you look like you're doing a great job with the balancing.

  • Reply Hipstercrite January 12, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    @Mink!- Yep. I sometimes wonder if I've become socially awkward in person. Sometimes it takes me a little bit to come back down to Earth. I don't like it and I don't want be one of the gazillions of people that have fake ADD.

    @J.M.- A long time ago my blog did not stress me out. However, it's moved in a direction where I'm taking it to another level. This is what stresses me out. I have to view it as a business and nurture it.

    @Nequam- Yes, I guess being self-aware is good, but how do you know when to stop? P.S. Thanks for saying hi!

    @IT- I LOVE that quote! See it on lots of bumper stickers.

    @Tsaritsa- I try to go for walks too, but that's not helping me in the interacting with people dept. I have an iPhone, but I rarely use it for blogging/tweeting/fb'ing. I think I'd explode if I did.

    @Scott- That's a good point. I agree. Lots of people feel that we should have a prescribed life and if we're not following it, then something is wrong. Maybe that is part of the stress we often put on ourselves too?

    @Kelly Ann- I wish I could do that. In fact, that's what I'd like to do, but my brain just doesn't work well in the morning! Plus, I already get up at 7AM. I don't wanna get up any early. I'm jealous that you can do that.

  • Reply Kait January 13, 2011 at 1:22 am

    You might not be going to a lot of happy hours now, but working hard now is what will distinguish you from your peers in a few years. By putting in work now, you might actually be able to accomplish the shit you want to do (at a time when you have more energy and no children/mortgage payments), while a lot of your peers will be doing the same 9-5 at jobs they hate. Not to say that you shouldn't take some time for awesome social activities, just make sure it's something super awesome that you will be extra glad you did!

    Wow, look at me, super serious about working! But whatever. I think you are awesome and you should keep doing your thing, and not feel bad about it.

  • Reply Christopher January 13, 2011 at 1:22 am

    I'd go on a date with that girl just to see what it was like but I wouldn't give her any contact information because she seems a little scary.

    Blogging is cool, and I love it. I have a tendency to do it in spurts. I'll blog everyday for a few months and then just be totally done with it, particularly during the summer and holidays. Not exactly very nice to me readers to just skip out for a month or two but it works for me. I'm not exactly to the point where its businesslike yet though.

  • Reply Hipstercrite January 13, 2011 at 1:34 am

    @Kait- Wow. Thank you. I just posted on your blog.

    @Christopher- What girl? Me girl?

  • Reply Randall January 13, 2011 at 7:15 am

    I think anytime you're building to something, there's going to be some tunnel vision. I think it's necessary, if you're on a path, you just can't be stopping every so often to be distracted by something, else-wise you'll never reach your destination. Sacrifices sometimes have to be made in the accomplishment of a goal. And this is, after all, something you've decided that matters and have committed yourself to, and is part of your real life now. Is it possible to balance two things that now intermingle?

    That being said, I can't imagine you're like me, so there's probably a social life waiting for you, things to do that can feed the thing you're building to, or keep it from consuming you, and I think it's important to push yourself to them if they're available to you. Setting restrictions for yourself isn't… well, it's not my favorite thing to suggest, but not terrible to consider, as sometimes working from the idea of "I'll only post this much, so if something extra pops up, I can use it later, or when it becomes applicable…" isn't the worst thing, and working within restrictions will sometimes make you develop unique or sort of revolutionary ideas about what it is you're doing. It's like a sonnet… yeah, the iambic it's written is really strict, but look what work working in it can sometimes lead to in the way of innovation.

  • Reply StrangeBird January 13, 2011 at 10:50 am

    I really don't think you have anything to worry about. If you were spending all your time shrinking into the electronic world, with nothing to show for it – then you might need to re-evaluate. But I think you keep a rocking blog – and I'm pretty sure 1534 other individuals agree with me! I think you're smart enough to sit up and take notice when a date or situation truly warrants it. Don't worry 🙂

  • Reply Austin Eavesdropper January 13, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Hey Lauren,

    This past summer, I went through something similar. I guess the "official" term is social media burnout.

    I thought about deleting my whole blog, not because I was anywhere near ventriloquist lady, but because the mental space the blog took up in my head was getting to be a little unbearable. Even though I LOVED blogging.

    Sometimes, I think your hobbies just cause you a lot of anxiety. And with social media, it's this weird paradox between getting "affirmation" (from RT's and Facebook likes and comments like this one), and at the same time, experiencing long separations from real-life hugs and smiles and flicking people off and sitting on bar stools next to strangers.

    Please feel totally free to email or call me about this. I don't think you are in danger of turning into Puppet Girl either but I DO know how this feels, and instead of deleting my blog, I just forced myself to develop a different relationship with it. Now I am happier!

  • Reply Kristen January 14, 2011 at 2:54 am

    Ugh, I don't know how to strike a balance. I am addicted to etsy. I can't ever stop working! On my shop, tweeting, blogging, thinking about it, making one more thing…
    My problem with blogging is that sometimes I feel it can get in the way – instead of partaking in an experience, I'm on the sidelines photographing it and thinking of some witty way to describe what went down.

    ok, here's a side note on this chick. She went to the same school as me (NYU) and studied acting and she was just as nutty then but she did not walk around with a puppet. She pretended/thought she was Mae West. For. Real.

    Now, there's obviously a chance she's addicted to her dolls, but the fact that she is a comedian/actor makes me raise my eyebrows a little bit. No one wants the nutty blonde with a crazy voice to play their club, but they may want the chick that was on "my strange addiction" and her puppets. Seems a little self promoting on her part. Or am I just being jaded?

  • Reply Hipstercrite January 14, 2011 at 3:06 am

    @Randall- I'm going to email you.

    @Strangebird- Aww! Thank you! Your comment made my smile when I read it in my inbox. I really appreciate your kind words.

    @Tolly- I'm going to email you too!

    @Kristen- I'm going to your Etsy page right now. You do have a business though, so your actions make perfect sense! And…that is so interesting about that girl! Now that you say it, it kind does seem like a good way to boost her image. Fascinating. Can't wait to tell me friends your story! Thanks for sharing!

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